The Fool

A few days ago, Jodi took Jen and Opal to see a counselor, whom we didn’t know was theist until he couldn’t keep his gob shut about how they’d have to seek aid from a higher power to make any kind of progress in their personal problems. My beloved wife kept her head about her, and asked if he knew of any more secular-oriented counselors, as she’s an atheist (yeah, she actually said it outright, go her!), and was pretty sure this wasn’t the type of counseling they needed. He apparently said something along the lines of “Oh, I’ve heard of atheists, the Bible talks about you.” I’m sure Jodi will correct me on this. But if this is accurate, you can bet money on what passage he’s referring to.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
Psalms 14:1

The Bible’s not got any kind of monopoly on insulting doubters though.

Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, and We separated them and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?
Quran 21:30

We (Allah) have created you, so why you don’t believe that.
Quran 56:57

The Quran actually goes on and on about all the various things that humans at the time didn’t understand, and how because they didn’t understand them, that must have been proof of Allah.

Thing is, religions aren’t the only social structures pulling this kind of shit.

WOW, only $17? I bought all of these tricks from other people and it cost at least $100! Definitely worth the buy for beginners and experts. All these tricks are practical and worth way more than $17. You’d have to be stupid not to buy this.
Axmagic1 of Youtube on a tutorial DVD on doing “street magic” a la David Blaine

But then, you’d have to be a fool to try and cheat or lie to a Scorpio, huh?
a Conneticut News-Times “Metaphysics” columnist

I’ve been your patient for 18 years. You’d have to be a fool not to believe in Chiropractic.
Testimonial on a chiropractic site

How’s that for a straight forward deal that removes every ounce of risk from you that you’d have to be a damn fool to pass up?
Work-At-Home Manifesto

Do you see a trend with those quotes? I’ll spell it out for you: “You have to be an idiot to disbelieve this sales pitch.” Snake-oil salesmen have written whole books about this very thesis.

So why is it that theists often think that calling atheists fools, or praying for us on April Fool’s Day, is such a powerful statement? Why, just because the Bible says “atheists are fools”, does this suddenly make it (ahem) gospel truth? I have to say it’s very likely because these same theists don’t recognize that calling doubters fools, idiots, stupid, etc., as part of your sales pitch, isn’t exactly a new strategy. It’s not unique to the Bible, and it’s not unique to people out to sell you snake-oil. And the tactic has been around for probably as long as the spirit of trying to sell people on things they don’t actually need to have happy and productive lives.

Because they don’t recognize this fact, you get the odd “militant theist” that thinks this verse is the club that can end all debate. That by quoting this, he can both call, say, Christopher Hitchens a fool, and simultaneously silence him from further questioning his sanctified beliefs. The Bible says it’s the word of God, and that you’d have to be a fool not to believe it’s so. What proof do we have that God exists? Why, the Bible says so! And it’s the word of God! Ergo, you == fool. Unless this converts you, then you’re suddenly wise again. You want to be wise, don’tcha?

Sorry, but that’s not how the world works. The real fools are those people that uncritically swallow anything they’re told, especially if they only do it because they’ve been accused of being foolish. In my estimation, it is far more foolish to ignore the scientifically derived, evidence-based theories that make up the scientific worldviews of today, which are molded and reshaped to better approximate reality when new evidence comes to light, than to cling tenaciously to very old ideas that have been so thoroughly disproved time and again.

I’m aware that this means I’m telling you to accept science over dogmatic faith, and that you’re a fool if you don’t. There’s a subtle difference though: my assertion leaves out the “uncritically swallow” part. And the “anything they’re told”. If someone comes along and says “I have scientific evidence for the existence of the soul!”, you’d better damn well scrutinize that evidence before you swallow it. And if the evidence is not forthcoming, well, that which is presented without evidence can be equally dismissed without evidence.

The difference between our ideals is the standard against which claims are compared, and the fact that the Bible does not rise above those standards by virtue of being some kind of holy book written by an infallible deity. Because it’s not. It’s written by men. Human beings that are every bit as fallible as you or I or Shakespeare. Yeah, Shakespeare, who wrote plays in which the fool was often the wisest of the characters.

There’s another quote I feel I have to share, considering I’ve been indirectly called a fool.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
-Abraham Lincoln

The theists that would pray for me on April Fool’s Day want me to be silent, and they think I’m a fool for denying their baseless assertion about their deity’s existence. It’s a shame (well, for them) that I was never very good at following advice, even if it comes from Honest Abe. If I’d followed his advice, I’d be silent about my atheism, which, should others also be silent, weakens the general acceptance of atheism as a viable and valid alternative to their dogmatic faith in aggregate.

Fuck that noise. They’re out there right now, yelling and screaming and kicking up a fuss. If I’m silent in the face of the foolishness they’re spouting, then I’m a fool indeed.

The Fool

2 thoughts on “The Fool

  1. 1

    “Who’s the more foolish: The fool, or the fool who follows him?” Sorry I couldnt resist as it is my favorite quote about a fool maybe. Nice post though, I have to agree, calling someone else a fool to get them to join you is pretty stupid all in all.

  2. 2

    click here (Edit by Jason: site doesn’t allow hotlinking, fixed anchor)

    Hope that worked. I’ve never tried to include images on a post.

    Little off subject and I apologize, but I saw this and thought of you and your readers.

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